As I’ve related in past posts, my liberal friend repeatedly calls me a fascist or Nazi for supporting the Tea Party. Aside from being really rude, these appellations bewilder me. The historical record is very clear that both the Italian fascists and the Germany Nazis were socialists. Socialism, by definition, means the concentration of political and economic power in the hands of a single government entity:
Certainly all governments that have self-identified as socialist have been run along these lines, to a greater or lesser extent. Without exception, the more extreme the socialism within a given nation, the more tyrannical the power structure within that nation. That, after all, is how “fascism” and “Naziism” got to be dirty words — because the political collective exerted violent control over its own citizens and, eventually, sought to exert that same control over citizens of other nations.
Given that the Tea Party is about lessening, rather than increasing, government’s power over its citizens, calling me a fascist or a Nazi seems like a misnomer of almost heroic prop0rtions. Yet my liberal friend is well-educated, as are most of the other so-called liberals tossing those insults around with such abandon.
One is tempted to dismiss the repeated use of these insults with the classic Princess Bride put-down: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” To do so is a mistake. Just because the Progressives and so-called liberals keep misusing the word does not mean that they don’t ascribe meaning to the word. I think I’ve finally figured out what that meaning is.
Tea Partiers advocate lower taxes and less government spending. As to the latter, because they aren’t anarchists, they recognize that the federal government needs to engage in certain types of expenditures in order to have a functional nation.
The most obvious necessary expenditure is national security, which gets an inordinate amount of space in the Constitution. We also expect the federal government to provide a stable economic environment (commerce and banking) and to exercise itself to prevent endemic and epidemic illnesses. We’ve acknowledged the need for a national police force (the FBI), although we leave most of our policing to local government.
I’m sure that all of you, with little effort, can think of other basic functions that federal and local governments need to fulfill. The bottom line is that Tea Partiers do not want those basic government services to end, although I’m sure that they’d like to see waste cut down, whether that’s through better management, or through the services of competitive private companies whose work is merely overseen by the government. (But that’s a post for another day.)
Once you remove from the equation the essentials of governing, you’re left with only one thing: entitlements. Tea Partiers are attacking entitlements. That is what makes us fascists or Nazis. It’s not that we want to exert more control over citizens in the traditional tyrannical socialist (fascist/Nazi) sense, it’s that we want to limit entitlements.
By the way, we tend to toss around the phrase “entitlements” with fairly careless abandon. It’s worthwhile to think about what an entitlement is: It means paying money or services to someone, not because he has earned that payment, but because he deserves it merely for being himself. (I’m very familiar with this concept, because my children have a massive sense of entitlement.)
Some entitlements are almost certainly a reasonable part of a decently functioning nation. A humane, moral nation doesn’t allow a 90 year old to starve to death in a gutter merely because he hasn’t worked enough lately to pay the rent. (Although the North Koreans are happy to do this with people who don’t sing the party tune loudly enough or, worse, who fail to contribute to the state any more.)
Since the 1960s, though, we’ve extended the notion of entitlements far past the minimal requirements of human decency. A perfect example is welfare. By the early 1990s, welfare was a huge leviathan, with families that had been on welfare for generations. The generational aspect of welfare wasn’t a result of a poor economy; it was the result of an entitlement mindset. Back in the 1960s, just as blacks were beginning to make economic strides, well-meaning social workers, flush with the notion of the Great Society, flooded black communities, urging blacks not to work: Let the government pay you. It owes you for the insults that have been visited against blacks since they were first forcibly shipped to these shores. For many families, not working became normative, because they were entitled not to work.
For those of you wondering why I’m mentioning welfare here, in 2010, when “welfare as we know it” ended it around 1994, I do so for two reasons. First, the Dems are using the bad economy to reinstate the welfare rolls. Second, many of you who were around during the 1994 debate must surely remember that the Left assured Americans that, if “welfare as we know it” ended, Americans would be dying in the streets, a la Calcutta or Ethiopia. Of course, that’s not what happened. When the entitlement was cut, able bodied people who were getting money, not because of any inherent failure in their ability to earn but because of a sense of entitlement, began to work. The world did not end, but the welfare rolls shrank, and the federal government shucked off some of its debt.
There is no doubt that attacking entitlements now will cause a temporary dislocation to those who have come to believe that they have no obligation in this life other than to sit back and take government money just because of who they are. In the end, very few of those feeding at the government trough are “entitled” to anything, and I weep no tears for their temporary hardship. I do know, though, that cutting the federal government by cutting entitlements will decrease government power and government profligacy, both of which are what the Tea Partiers seek.
And if that makes me a fascist, so be it.
Cross-posted at Right Wing News
UPDATE: Here’s another example of a Leftist re-defining settled terms to suit his beliefs.
UPDATE II: A graphic example of entitlements, and what happens when the spoiled brats think they’re about to lose them.